The Hale ‘Aina Awards are Hawai‘i’s longest running and most prestigious dining award. This year will mark the 33rd anniversary of recognizing Hawai‘i’s most prized and praised restaurants. Pick your favorite from the list of the top five nominees in each category. The winning restaurants will be announced at the Hale ‘Aina Awards on September 25.
In 1984, HONOLULU Magazine established its Hale ‘Aina Awards as the Islands’ first local restaurant awards. Before then, culinary awards in the Islands had been given by Mainland travel interests. The Hale ‘Aina Awards were the first to recognize local tastes.
Over the past 30 years, the Hale ‘Aina Awards have been much imitated, but they still stand out, as the most prized dining awards in the Islands.
All HONOLULU readers are eligible to vote. Voting took place in June. A hard copy ballot also appears in the June issue each year. After the ballots are tallied, the magazine designates its readers’ favorite restaurants as Hale ‘Aina Award winners for that year.
Hale ‘Aina means “eating place.” It is the closest Hawaiian equivalent to the word restaurant. But Hale ‘Aina has come to mean the most prestigious dining awards in the Islands. They act as a guide to readers about where to eat, they bolster a restaurant’s reputation and they have been publicized all over the Mainland and Japan.
The Hale ‘Aina Awards also feature a fun and delicious signature event for HONOLULU Magazine. What had started as a potluck celebration in a conference room at the office has grown into a gala celebration. The awards are announced for the first time on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016 at The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort.
In each Hale ‘Aina Award category, there are six available slots for nominations. Three are automatically filled with the gold-, silver- and bronze-award-winning restaurants from the previous Hale ‘Aina Awards, in recognition of their demonstrated high quality. Two restaurants are nominated by HONOLULU Magazine’s food and dining editor, Catherine Toth Fox, based on her own research and impressions of Hawai‘i’s dining scene. And lastly, one nomination slot is reserved as a write-in, to allow readers to suggest their own favorite restaurant in each category, if it hasn’t already been nominated.